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Originally published Friday, March 21, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Spring Training | Relief pitcher Sean Green will be key in late innings for Mariners

Same pitch, different locations. That's the key the Mariners hope will earn Sean Green respect from hitters on both sides of the plate. Green has always been a...

Seattle Times staff reporter

PEORIA, Ariz. — Same pitch, different locations. That's the key the Mariners hope will earn Sean Green respect from hitters on both sides of the plate.

Green has always been a sinker-ball specialist and that's not going to change. All the same, though, the Mariners had noticed that hitters seemed to be sitting in anticipation of certain offerings last season.

Left-handed hitters wound up with a .329 batting average and .909 on-base-plus-slugging-percentage off Green, compared with .286 and .727 by right-handers. That won't cut it, especially for a guy being counted on as heavily as Green is for some late-inning help.

"I think establishing the inside part of the plate with lefties is going to be important," said Green, who is entering his second full season. "Last year, I got in a rut of going away, away, away against lefties. If you get the rep of being a guy who's just going to throw a lot of sinkers to a certain side of the plate, then they start looking for it a little bit."

Green got away with what he was doing early on. But some of it caught up to him as the season progressed and he grew more fatigued — causing him to miss his spots more often.

"If you make the pitch, then most of the time you're still going to be successful," Green said. "But if you do miss a little bit, you're going to get hurt. I think the key for me is I'm going to stay with my game plan. I'm still going to go away to lefties more than inside, but I still have to show I'm going to go in there."

Mariners manager John McLaren is counting on Green to take some late-inning pressure off the team this season. That will be especially true early, with the status of Brandon Morrow not certain.

Morrow has another bullpen session today and could pitch in a game Sunday if he's not bothered by the shoulder fatigue that sidelined him last week. McLaren said Morrow should still be able to start the season on time.

But Green, so valuable as a first-half bridge to closer J.J. Putz last season, could still be an effective weapon in late situations this year. McLaren brought him into Wednesday night's game against Arizona with the bases loaded and watched Green escape on a ground-ball out.

Green has spent much of the spring getting a better feel for the sinker that gets those grounders. But his final week of Cactus League play will be used to work on the location of that pitch and others that can help set it up.

M's looking at No. 2 spot

Jose Lopez got a second straight night of work batting second on Thursday in Seattle's 10-inning, 6-6 tie with the San Diego Padres, though his results were mixed.

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Lopez wound up credited with an RBI on a single down the right-field line in the third inning that scored Ichiro from second. But the hit came only after Lopez twice failed to bunt Ichiro over to third base.

In fact, the only reason for the single might have been a late swing by Lopez on the two-strike pitch. His line drive made it just past the bag and out of the reach of diving first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

McLaren said he's looking at a variety of options in the No. 2 spot in case he needs to move Jose Vidro further down in the order. The Mariners ran into cases last season where they'd have up to five right-handed hitters batting in a row, and McLaren would like to break that up with the switch-hitting Vidro if he could.

Notes

• Injured utility man Willie Bloomquist, out since last week with a tight quadriceps muscle, could finally get back in a game this Sunday.

Richie Sexson sat out Thursday's game, still bothered by a sore shoulder that limited him to DH duty in a hitless performance the previous night.

• One day after being optioned to Class AAA by the Mariners, catcher Jeff Clement went 3 for 3 with a home run, a double and four RBI as Tacoma defeated Oklahoma 9-3.

Thursday's box score

Seattle San Diego
AB R H BI AB R H BI
Ichiro cf 4 3 3 0 BGiles rf 2 0 1 0
Balentien lf-rf 1 0 0 0 DaVanon pr 2 0 0 0
Lopez 2b 5 1 1 1 Iguchi 2b 3 0 0 0
Ibanez lf 3 1 3 0 Rodriguez ss 1 1 1 0
Reed pr-cf 1 0 0 0 Kouzmanoff 3b 3 0 0 0
ABeltre 3b 4 0 1 2 Fick c 2 0 0 1
Cairo 3b 1 0 0 0 AGonzalez 1b 5 1 2 0
Vidro 1b 2 1 1 2 Greene ss 3 0 0 0
Norton 1b 1 0 1 0 Robles 2b 2 0 0 0
Jimerson pr-lf 0 0 0 0 Gerut lf 5 1 1 1
Wilkerson rf 4 0 0 0 Hairston cf 3 1 1 1
Woods p 0 0 0 0 Crabbe rf 1 1 1 0
O'Flaherty p 0 0 0 0 Bard c 3 0 2 1
Hulett ph 0 0 0 0 Bell p 0 0 0 0
Corcoran p 0 0 0 0 JWells p 0 0 0 0
Burke c 3 0 0 0 Headley ph 1 1 1 2
Betancourt ss 5 0 1 1 EnGonzalez p 0 0 0 0
Batista p 3 0 0 0 Germano p 1 0 0 0
Morse rf-1b 2 0 1 0 McAnulty ph 1 0 0 0
KCameron p 0 0 0 0
Hoffman p 0 0 0 0
Stansberry ph 2 0 0 0
Totals 39 6 12 6 Totals 40 6 10 6
Seattle 202 001 100 0 6
San Diego 030 000 120 0 6
E — Morse 2, Iguchi 2. DP — San Diego 2. LOB — Seattle 9, San Diego 6. 2B — Suzuki 2, Morse, AGonzalez, Hairston, Rodriguez. HR — Headley. SB — Vidro, Suzuki. S — Hulett, Burke. SF — Vidro 2.
Padres IP H R ER BB SO
Batista 6 7 3 3 1 7
Woods 2 1 1 0 0 2
O'Flaherty 1 2 2 2 1 1
Corcoran 1 0 0 0 0 1
Mariners IP H R ER BB SO
Germano 5 6 4 3 1 3
KCameron 1 2 1 1 0 2
Hoffman 1 2 1 1 1 0
Bell 1 1 0 0 0 1
JWells 1 0 0 0 0 1
EnGonzalez 1 1 0 0 0 0
T — 3:06. A — N/A.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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